Assembling your Picade - 2018 edition

This tutorial will show you how to build your 2018 edition Picade. It incorporates the text from the included assembly instructions, with some important updates and additional information, and the videos for each section of the Picade build video. Take note of the important information in bold, as these are corrections to the text of the assembly instructions included with your Picade.

Old tutorial awooga! This tutorial is not for our most recent Picade edition - check out the Picade shop page for a link to the most up to date instructions.


It'll take two to three hours to build your Picade. A large space, like a table or floor, with a soft covering is an ideal build space. Some parts are fiddly so it helps to have an extra, friendly, pair of hands on stand by. You’ll need a Phillips screwdriver.

In the box, you'll find four smaller boxes that contain the CABINET, FIXINGS, SCREEN, and ACCESSORIES.

Beginning to build the casing

Take the CABINET and FIXINGS boxes, and remove the nuts, bolts, and plastic corner brackets from the FIXINGS box, and the MDF pieces from the CABINET box.

Note that you’ll always be attaching the plastic brackets to the sides of the panels with the markings and text on.

Attach five plastic corner brackets to the base (panel A), using five M3 bolts and nuts, with the nuts on the inside of the panel (the side with the text on).

Next, take panel B and attach it to the two brackets on the side of panel A closest to the speaker grille, using two more M3 nuts and bolts.

Take panel C (the top) and attach right-angle plastic brackets to each side of it, using two M3 bolts and nuts on each side. Then attach panel C to panel B using another M3 bolt and nut (the side of the bracket with the hole in the centre attaches to panel B). Panel C attaches with the protruding part towards the back.

Building the screen

Open the SCREEN box, containing the screen and associated bits. The acrylic that goes in front of the screen is the large, approximately square piece that is in the CABINET box.

All of the acrylic pieces, including the screen acrylic, will have white protective film on. Peel this off each of the pieces as you use them.

Take the screen acrylic and lay it down with the tabs on either side. Place the screen surround artwork face down onto it The stripes on the artwork should be at the bottom right when looking from the front.

The two narrow, clear acrylic pieces, marked TOP 1 and BASE 1, go at the top and base of the screen and hold it in place. Place them with the flat edges aligned flush with the top and base of the screen assembly, and the cutouts towards the middle of the screen assembly.

Peel the protective film off the screen using the tab at the side, and place the screen in the gap between the two acrylic pieces, with the ribbon cable towards the top edge.

Before adding the final parts of the screen assembly, attach the display driver board to its acrylic bracket. Take the acrylic piece (marked TOP 2), and place it with the protruding part pointing downwards.

The bolts used to attach the display driver board to its bracket are the four black metal M2.5 flange bolts in a separate bag. These have low-profile heads, with no slot on top, and prevent the acrylic bracket for the driver board from bending out too far. Use four of the black plastic M2.5 nuts in the bag with the Raspberry Pi fixings to attach the flange screws.

Push the four M2.5 flange bolts through from the back of the acrylic, and then attach the driver board with the four M2.5 plastic nuts, making sure that the HDMI and micro-USB ports are towards the base, and the ribbon cable connector is towards the cutout at the top.

Place the acrylic piece marked BASE 2 at the base of the screen assembly (note that this piece does not have a cutout as stated in the assembly instructions; just make sure the the "BASE 2" text is the right way up). Place the TOP 2 bracket with the driver board towards the centre of the screen. Use four M3 screws, pushed through from the front side of the assembly (with the clear acrylic), to hold the whole screen assembly together, and secure it with four M3 nuts. Be careful nut to over-tighten these nuts and bolts or you’ll risk cracking the acrylic.

Connect the ribbon cable from the screen to the connector on the driver board. Gently pull out the black clip on either side of the connector, push the ribbon cable right into the socket, then push the clips in securely on either side.

Lay the keypad and cable aside for later.

Slot the whole screen assembly into the side of the casing that you’ve assembled. The driver board should be closest to the top of the cabinet, and the rainbow stripes on the front should be at the bottom right corner looking from the front.

The marquee

The marquee is the long thin piece that sits above the screen, with the PICADE logo on.

Take the two acrylic marquee pieces, with the tabs closest to the bottom, and sandwich the marquee artwork between them (again, remember to remove the white protective film). Slot one set of tabs on the marquee into the slot on panel B. A little masking tape or a rubber band can help to hold the marquee sandwich together (you’ll be able to peel it off easily later).

Attaching side panel D and front panel E

You might want to lay the cabinet on its side for this part.

Take panel D and slot the tabs on the display and marquee sandwiches into the slots on it (this might take a bit of wiggling to make sure everything is lined up). Use three M3 bolts and nuts to attach panel D to panels A and C.

Attach the front panel E to panel A using two M3 bolts and nuts.

Building the console

The console consists of three pieces: a black MDF piece (bottom), the console artwork (middle), and the acrylic (top). Make a sandwich of these three pieces, again remembering to remove the white protective film.

Open the ACCESSORIES box. Attach the joystick first, to anchor the whole console assembly together. Make sure that the connector faces inwards towards the middle of the console. Remove the black plastic dust cover and, with the metal shaft sticking through the single hole (not the cluster of six holes) in the console, mount the joystick using two M3 screws and nuts. Again, be careful not to over-tighten these nuts and bolts or you’ll risk cracking the acrylic. Screw the ball top onto the joystick, remembering to put the dust cover back on first, using a flat-head screwdriver to hold the shaft of the joystick from below, if necessary.

Note that the bolts used to attach the joystick are only slightly larger than the holes on the metal joystick plate, however the holes in the plastic and MDF console pieces are spaced slightly further apart than the holes on the metal joystick plate so that the nuts grip over the edge of the holes when tightened. This is an intentional feature of the design, and your joystick will still be firmly attached.

Push the buttons through from the outside of the panels. The buttons on the front and sides of the cabinet should be black. The buttons on the console are yellow, pink, and blue, from left to right, matching the coloured stripes on the console artwork.

Unscrew the plastic ring from the illuminated power button, push through the small hole in panel B, and attach by screwing the plastic ring back on.

Mounting the speaker and Raspberry Pi

Mount the speaker in panel A with M3 screws, pushed through from below, and secure with M3 nuts.

Push four M2.5 screws through the four remaining holes in panel A and place the white plastic spacers on top of each, then place your Pi onto the screws, with the USB ports facing panel B. Screw the four metal standoffs onto the screw heads, securing your Pi (note that Matt only uses two standoffs in the build video, but you can use all four if you prefer).

A piece of Blu-Tack over the head of each screw can help to keep them in place while you fit the spacers, Pi, and standoffs, and can simply be removed afterwards.

Plug one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI socket on the Pi.

Fit the Picade X HAT, pushing it onto the GPIO pins on the Pi, ensuring that the pins are correctly lined up. Use four more M2.5 screws to secure the HAT to the standoffs.

Wiring the joystick

There are four sets of wires, for the joystick, console buttons, utility buttons, and power button. The set of wires with a white plastic connector on one end and a 5-pin Dupont (black plastic with male pins) connector on the other is for the joystick. The two sets of twelve wires with Dupont connectors on one end and spade connectors on the other are for the console and utility buttons. The remaining set of wires with a red and black wire are for the LED on the illuminated power button.

Begin by connecting the white plastic connector to the pins on the underside of the joystick. Looking from below, the connector attaches with the clip on top. The wires from right to left (note that the wires on the wiring diagram don't trace correctly between the joystick and Picade X HAT connector) are up, down, right, left, and ground, as you are looking at the connector from below with the wires going downwards, so take the other end of the wire, with the pins on, and plug it into the JOYSTICK header on the Picade X HAT.

If your joystick only has one direction that works later when it comes to mapping the controls, then the wires have been connected back-to-front. Simply remove the pin connectors for the joystick on the Picade X HAT, flip them 180 degrees, and plug them in again.

Wiring the player buttons

Next, take one of the sets of twelve wires, and separate the strands a little into six pairs at the end with the spades. This will help when connecting them up. Working from one side of the cable, connect each pair of spades to each button from 1 to 6 (marked on the underside of the console). Take the six pairs of pins at the other end of the cable and connect them to the pairs of terminals marked BUTTONS from 1 to 6 (the orientation of the pairs of pins doesn’t matter).

Take the other set of twelve wires, and strip off one pair of wires altogether (you’ll only need five pairs). Again, separate the strands a little into five pairs at the end with the spades. Taking each pair in turn, connect them to the ENT, ESC, 1UP, COIN, and power button respectively. On the power button, you should connect the spade connectors to the pair of spades closest to the edge of the button. Take the pairs of pins at the other end and connect them to the pairs of terminals marked ENT, ESC, 1UP, COIN, and ON respectively on the Picade X HAT.

Wiring the power button and speaker

The remaining pair of wires, the red and black ones, are for the LED on the power button. Connect the spade connector on the red wire to the spade on the button marked + and the black to the spade marked -. Connect the pins at the other end to the pair of terminals marked LED, making sure that the red one is at the side marked + (these are labelled incorrectly on the wiring diagram).

Note that the spades on the illuminated power button can be a little fragile, and the spade connectors on the wires a little tight, but you can loosen the spade connectors on the wires slightly by prying them open with a flat-headed screwdriver, and then crimp them gently with pliers once attached, as Matt does in the video above.

The speaker wires screw push the terminals marked SPKR + and -, red for positive and black for negative. Use a pen or pencil tip, or a small screwdriver to gently press in the clips on the speaker terminals as you're pushing the wires firmly in.

The wires should grip tightly in the speaker terminals. Ensure that you don't press the clips in too hard as this can break them, and pressing harder won't make it any easier to get the wires in. You can use a pair of flat-nosed pliers or tweezers to help to push the wires in if needed.

Attaching the console

Take the remaining pair of plastic brackets and attach them to the underside of the console, using the centre hole and a pair of M3 bolts and nuts (the brackets should be facing outwards towards the sides of the console, where they’ll attach to side panels B and D).

Slot the console in, and attach to the side panels with another pair of M3 bolts and nuts. Reach in from the rear of the cabinet to hold the nuts in place while you tighten the bolts from the outside.

This part is tricky, and it can help to lay the cabinet on its side, as Matt does in the video, so that you can balance the nut on your finger more easily. Also note the way that Matt pops the side button out to get easier access to fit the nut inside.

Peel off the backing from the four rubber feet and stick them on the underside of the casing, in the four corners.

Connecting the display and power

Connect the HDMI cable from the Pi to the display driver board. Plug one end of the micro-USB cable into one of the USB ports on the Pi, and the other end into the micro-USB connector on the display driver board.

Use the remaining M2.5 bolts and nuts to connect the keypad to the inside of panel B. Connect the ribbon cable between the keypad and the display driver board, gently pulling out the clip on either side of the connector, pushing the ribbon cable in blue side upwards, then pushing the clip back in to secure the cable.

Note that the ribbon cable for the keypad should go underneath the black plastic clips on the connectors on both the keypad and display driver board. If you try to fit it on top of the black plastic clip then it'll still fit but won't work!

Getting up and running

We recommend the Retropie operating system for your Picade. Download it from, and burn it to a micro-SD card.

Plug a USB keyboard into your Pi the first time you boot it, to allow you to configure the Wi-Fi.

Pop your freshly-burned micro-SD into the slot on the underside of your Pi, slot the back panel in (with the cutout for the keypad at the top left), and secure the tab on the top with the black rubber band (you might have to flex the top of the cabinet slightly to get it in).

Plug your 5V, 2.5A power supply into the micro-USB connector on the Picade X HAT (the HAT will supply power to your Pi). Press the power button and your Picade will now boot up!

Connect to Wi-Fi to run the Picade HAT installer. You'll find it in the Retropie menu under "CONFIGURE WIFI".

To run the Picade HAT installer, which will set up the joystick and buttons, the audio, and the power button, exit the Retropie GUI by pressing F4 on your keyboard, and type the following in the terminal window: “curl | bash”, press “Enter”, then follow the instructions on screen.

If the screen on your Picade doesn't show anything while it's booting up, then you'll need to do a little jiggery-pokery to get it working. Because of the way that the Raspberry Pi handles power to the USB ports during boot, and due to the fact that the screen is powered from the USB ports, the display isn't detected during boot-up.

However, you can force the Pi to output to HDMI by editing the /boot/config.txt file (you can do this by popping the SD card into an SD card reader on a separate computer, or by connecting a separate micro-USB power supply to the display driver board). Either edit the /boot/config.txt file in a text editor (Sublime Text is our favourite) or by typing sudo nano /boot/config.txt in the terminal (press F4 in RetroPie to exit to the terminal, then type emulationstation to get back in). Add the line hdmi_force_hotplug=1 to the bottom of that file, save, and then reboot your Picade to enable the change.

PEW! PEW! PEW! Your Picade is now set up and ready to go!

That's all folks!

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